Last week, ThinkTech and the Hawaii Venture Capital Association presented a program titled(Excerpts)
“The Press Weighs In on Rail,” with Mayor Peter Carlisle, then two panels of journalists.
[Thanks largely to Mayor Hannemann] Rail is the biggest, most expensive and disruptive public works project we’ve ever had. It is also the most divisive and litigation-ridden project we’ve ever had, and makes Superferry look like a piker. Now we are engaged in a great civil war over it, testing whether our city can long endure.
So we told our panels we didn’t want a debate on rail. But what we got instead was a study on stonewalling, where we found that the trouble with rail is not so much rail as it is governance. Indeed, a disturbing picture emerged, a picture of the press being thwarted by the city’s [largely Mayor Hannemann] efforts to manage public opinion.
At his turn, Milner, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said we needed to finish the political phase before moving to the “technical” phase, but that hasn’t been the case. Surrounded by controversy, the city [Mayor Hannemann] rushed into contract and tells us now that any delay will cost $10 million a day, the implication being that he who would oppose or delay the project will cost us millions. So whose fault is that? [Mayor Hannemann’s!]
And why has the city [Mayor Hannemann] spent millions doing public relations and advertising campaigns dedicated to neutralizing public opposition to rail? The city [Mayor Hannemann] has spent prodigious amounts of taxpayer money, even down to hiring bloggers, to convince us that rail should go ahead. Is this a proper use of public funds?]
This divisiveness didn’t have to happen. It reflects unacceptable strategies by two successive administrations, [beginning with Mayor Hannemann] and we’re suffering for that. As Ian Lind said, “The lack of transparency here wasn’t the problem; it was the plan.” We need to learn by what has happened and insist on total transparency from now on.
Rail is what it is and we are where we are. Now that construction has started, we need to examine the realities and look for rapprochement before it tears us apart. But whatever happens on rail, we have to think twice before voting for anyone who has played the press, misled the public or abused our trust. [e.g. Mayor Hannemann]
Jay Fidell, a longtime business lawyer, founded ThinkTech Hawaii, a digital media company that reports on Hawaii's tech and energy sectors of the economy. Reach him at email@example.com.
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The above is from The Star Advertiser- read the full article here.